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Free agents Jairus Byrd, Michael Johnson not draft-day winners

Free agency always will have an effect on the ensuing draft, and it won't be any different this year, with team needs changing depending on who teams sign -- or don't sign -- during this free-agency period. The irony is that many of these free agents who are changing teams' draft plans weren't that highly coveted on their draft days.

Take offensive tackle Austin Howard, who has agreed to a five-year, $30 million deal with the Oakland Raiders: He wasn't even drafted in 2010 out of Northern Iowa.

Defensive tackle Clinton McDonald has agreed to terms with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he is expected to start next to Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy. McDonald was a seventh-round choice out of Memphis in 2009. He was the 249th pick in a 256-player draft.

Anthony Collins is one of the hotter free-agent offensive tackles on the market; he was a fourth-round pick out of Kansas in 2008, and the 12th offensive tackle selected in that draft.

Defensive tackle Paul Soliai has agreed to a five-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons worth $33 million, with $14 million guaranteed. He was a fourth-rounder from Utah in the 2007 draft and the ninth defensive tackle taken that year.

Free-agent guard/tackle Geoff Schwartz was sought-after because of his versatility, and he agreed to terms with the offensive line-needy New York Giants. His versatility wasn't necessarily a selling point out of California, though, as he went in the seventh round of the 2008 draft. He was taken as an offensive tackle and was the 21st tackle selected that year.

Defensive tackle Earl Mitchell went in the third round of the 2010 draft out of Arizona and was the ninth player selected at his position. He has agreed to a four-year, $16 million contract, with $9 million guaranteed, with the Miami Dolphins.

Here is a look at's top 10 free agents available this year and where they were drafted.

1. CB Darrelle Revis: First-rounder in 2007 out of Pitt, and the first cornerback taken in that draft.

2. FS Jairus Byrd: Second-rounder in 2009 out of Oregon, and the third safety selected in that draft.

3. OT Eugene Monroe: First-rounder out of Virginia in 2009, and the third offensive tackle taken in that draft.

4. DE Michael Johnson: Third-rounder out of Georgia Tech in 2009, and the 10th player at his position selected that year.

5. C Alex Mack: First-rounder out of California in the 2009 draft, and the first center drafted that year.

6. DE Lamarr Houston: Second-rounder out of Texas in 2010 and the sixth end drafted that year.

7. OT Jared Veldheer: Third-rounder out of Hillsdale (Mich.) in 2010, and the eighth tackle selected in that draft.

8. OT Branden Albert: First-rounder out of Virginia in 2008 and the fourth tackle selected.

9. CB Alterraun Verner: Fourth-rounder out of UCLA in the 2010 draft and the 13th corner selected that year.

10. DE DeMarcus Ware: First-rounder out of Troy in 2005 and the first player at his position selected that year.

The upshot: If teams thought, say, Jairus Byrd would be this good, he would've gone in the first round. But you can't measure inner drive or intangibles -- nor, really, how a player will fit in. Thus, as always, be prepared for players selected on the second and third day of the 2014 draft to be coveted free agents four or five years from now, and expect some players in the first round to wash out and never make an NFL dent.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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